“I think it’s very important that we show the world that America cares,” said Melania Trump, speaking while in Africa for last week’s ABC “20/20” profile, “Being Melania: The First Lady.” She continued: “And that this administration cares. And I care. When other people have more opportunities, then the world is more free.” (Well, actually, she said “more freer,” but I cut her some slack, not only because English is her fifth language but also because she was right.)
Melania was treated mostly decently this time, as the object of the show was very obviously to contrast her thoughtfulness and compassion with Trump’s seeming lack of same and, in doing so, make the President look as bad as they possibly could. Still, in general, from the moment Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President, Melania has been treated shabbily by the media, most pointedly by the fashion world. Though I don’t spend much time with “women’s” magazines, I see them at the hair salon often enough to know what’s going on with the fashion industry. At a time when magazines are struggling to stay alive, those publishers insist on trafficking in liberal politics so often that I and approximately half of the potential market can hardly stomach them.
Seems like a bad business decision to me, but these publishers from the Upper West Side bubble will put the grotesque Lena Dunham (to cite one just example) on their covers, but not Melania Trump. Designers even refuse to dress the First Lady, who is tall and gorgeous and used to be A MODEL. My thanks to Dolce & Gabbana for showing some sense and actually stepping up to design for her.
Melania has received withering criticism for some fashion choices that seemed fine to me, and scant praise for some of the most beautiful representations of fashion that I have ever seen. And I notice that she (or some wonderful person on her staff) puts a lot of thought into choices for particular occasions, especially when she is traveling to other countries. When in Belgium, for example, she wore a gorgeous Battenberg lace dress that I’m sure was an homage to the Belgian lace industry. In Asia, her clothes were a beautiful nod to Eastern fashion, and so forth. If she gets credit for this kind of sensitivity, I haven’t seen it anywhere. For all I know, it’s the reverse and she’s accused of “cultural appropriation.” Personally, I believe anyone who accuses anyone of cultural appropriation needs to appropriate some brain cells.
Earlier this year, actor James Woods tweeted what I’d been saying for a long time: “If the Trumps were Democrats, Melania would be on the cover of every chic women’s magazine every month.” To bring the point home, he accompanied his tweet with a glamorous shot of Melania in a blue strapless dress. It’s stunningly true: Melania has not been on the cover of even one fashion magazine since her husband became President. In contrast, Newsweek reported in April that Michelle Obama had appeared on twelve magazine covers while her husband was President, including three for Vogue.
Democratic elitists worship style and image among their own. I believe style is a huge part of why Obama, with his slim, confident good looks and dazzling smile, got to the head of the political line so fast, and why young, photogenic and ignorant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quickly became the socialist darling on college campuses around the country. It’s why JFK and Jackie were worshiped as the king and queen of Camelot, and why JFK Jr. was seen early on as Presidential material. They’re doing the same thing right now to try to push “Beto” O’Rourke as a new star; I hope Texans are smart enough to reject the ploy. Frankly, I’d vote for someone who looked like Mr. Potato Head if he were an effective and principled conservative leader.
Anyway, if Melania were a Democratic First Lady, designers would be killing each other for the privilege of dressing her. She would be on magazine covers as no First Lady has ever been. News analyst Brit Hume, speaking on FOX News Sunday –- after former Hillary senior advisor Philippe Reines slammed Melania’s performance in the ABC interview as “cringe-worthy” –- expressed my view perfectly: “Can you imagine if she were the spouse of a Democratic President, the ADORING coverage that she would receive? And she has not gotten that. She has been treated either, almost completely ignored –- she’s not on the cover of the big fashion magazines all the time the way a Democratic first lady who looks like her would be, and she’s often mocked and ridiculed. Now, whether or not that makes her one of the most bullied persons on earth, I don’t know, but her complaint is not without some basis.”
Hume actually got some pushback on that, which bothered me because he was right. (As for the bullying, I’ve seen the filthy and hateful tweets directed at her and would say she’s bullied as badly as anyone could be.) But Karl Rove said what I would have, that this is an independent woman worthy of admiration and appreciation. She was asked some uncomfortable questions about her husband and made it clear that she would deal with those issues in her own way.
At the close of the interview, Melania was asked if she loves her husband (!), and she said with a smile that, yes, she does, and that the media are not always correct. (Now there’s something she and her husband can agree on!) Perhaps I’m jut not remembering, but I don’t recall any other First Lady being asked straight out if she loved her husband, not even Hillary after the revelations about Bill’s mega-philandering. For this show, however, they even dragged out old clips that some had interpreted at the time to show discord between the two, such as one coming off Air Force One in which she appears to brush Trump’s hand away. But that image doesn’t stick; the President strikes me as loving and generous in giving Melania the credit she deserves.
“If you like President Trump, she is a great, elegant asset to him and to the country; she’s a great First Lady,” said ABC’s Terry Moran. “If you don’t like President Trump, she is either the Beauty who lives with the Beast, or the princess trapped in the castle with the dragon, or the arm candy on the billionaire.” Now, I must confess that this observation confused my poor little female brain; those on the left are supposed to be automatically pro-woman; how can they dismiss any woman as a “princess” or mere “arm candy”? Yet, they manage to do this with Melania. Such hypocrites.
Melania appeared to me to be a very centered person, true to herself, as she summed up what is important to her, simply and beautifully, at the end of the interview. “Listen to yourself,” she said. “I always ask myself, what is my priority? What do I want to do --- what is good for our child, and for me, and for my husband. And I do those steps.”
Even her decision to get on the plane wearing a jacket that said, “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?,” though widely misinterpreted, made sense to me as a message to the media. Sure enough, when she was asked about it during the interview, that’s what she said. In her words, “It was for the people and for the left-wing media who are criticizing me, and I want to show them that I don’t care, you can criticize, whatever you want to say, but it will not stop me to do what I feel is right.”
And maybe it means that when it comes right down to it, she doesn’t care if she’s on the cover of Vogue, either.